In this book summary of The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich, you’ll find my notes, valuable lessons, and important action steps.
The Accidental Billionaires Summary
Luck can play a significant role in how successful or rich people become. Eduardo Saverin was lucky to meet and befriend Mark Zuckerberg of all people he could have met at Harvard.
The phrase “it pays to be in the right place at the right time” couldn’t be truer when it comes to the cofounders of Facebook. All it took is missing a meeting, living in a different hall, or living in a different dorm and the odds are they don’t join Mark with Facebook.
Many hackers and computer nerds think differently about justice and fairness than traditional organizations do. In Zuckerberg’s mind, he was doing less than shoplifting by borrowing pictures of Harvard classmates from the school’s databases.
It’s a 10x, 100x, or 1,000x advantage to be the first adopter of something (in this case a social network exclusive to Harvard students). Everyone else will always be playing catch up to the company or individual who makes the first big land grab and gets popular for it. Speed kills!
If you enter a business agreement with someone, no matter how early in the process, make sure the expectations are clear and legally binding. Too much to lose by being lazy or relaxed about it.
Mark Zuckerberg is a great entrepreneur because he has incredible focus where he can ignore any distraction (including sleep) to stay on task. He was a workhorse on the computer in the early days of Facebook.
A business that knows how to manufacture virality by getting their customers family and friends to join them is going places. Facebook added users like it was nobody’s business, virality is a main reason why.
It’s wild that after Facebook took off, Mark Zuckerberg seemed more famous than Bill Gates during Gates’ speech that Mark attended.
Unless you’re ok with losing control, it’s a huge mistake to live in a location different from where all the other founders and employees are working on the company. (Bad move by Eduardo to be alone in New York while the rest of the team is in California.)
Your ownership of the company should come down to how much you produce in value to benefit the company.
Often people who have it good (like being students at Harvard) turn out successful, but they don’t become revolutionaries in their industry. Seems like a risk-taker who has the mindset he has nothing to lose has the opportunity to think riskier and take bigger chances. Zuckerberg wasn’t the average college student afraid to risk really good for something unbelievable.
Choosing to please your parents instead of following your intuition can leave you unhappy, less successful, and feeling miserable with regret.
Sean Parker was the reason Mark Zuckerberg met Peter Thiel, Facebook received $500,000 in seed money, and stayed afloat until it became a money-making machine. Your connections or lack of them can make you or break you in business.
When you feel you’re wronged in business with your intellectual property being stolen, the first option is to get it back. The second and least attractive option is to sue.
As companies with friends grow to become massive, the friendship is tested to the point where it often breaks. There’s something about money and power that can destroy relationships. Trust is also harder to come by with more on the line.
Even if they helped your business grow rapidly, employees who threaten the company can’t stick around. It’s too much of a liability for operations and company culture.
Brilliant results come when you have the ingredients of genius innovation, brilliant mentorship from the people around you, and a tireless work-ethic. Facebook was built from the blood, sweat, and tears of Zuckerberg and his team.
To build a monster company like Facebook, it takes 100% commitment, ruthless decision making, and you’re going to piss a few (or a lot) of people off. There’s no way to play nice with everyone and build a company to that magnitude.
Though it all started from the humble grounds of a dorm room, Facebook is now one of the world’s most unimaginably successful companies. It goes to show that innovation can happen anywhere at anytime, so keep your eyes open.
Three Favorite Quotes
“To guys like Mark, time was another weapon of the establishment, like alphabetical order. The great engineers, hackers – they didn’t function under the same time constraints as everyone else.”
“That was the thing about VC money. It was awesome—until it wasn’t.”
“Having been a part of two major companies—and witnessed many more successes and failures—he knew that the most important aspect of a start-up was the energy and ambition of the founding players. If you were going to do something like this—really do it, really succeed—you had to live and breathe the project. Every minute of every day.”
Action Steps For You
Admittedly this book is harder to give you action steps since it’s not a traditional personal development book. Though there are a few key takeaways you can implement in your life to reach your dreams.
First, it all starts with drive. Zuckerberg’s hunger to not only build Facebook, but make it such a great user experience that college students would share it with their friends was second to none.
This guy is an animal who put Facebook above eating, social life, and sleeping.
Now I would question, and possible discourage Mark Zuckerberg’s unhealthy sleeping habit, but the fact he stayed hungry to his mission above all else is commendable.
How committed are you to your cause? Does it come before your social life, peer pressure commitments, weekly comforts, and relax time? If you have big aspirations, you need to put your mission ahead of things that people with less ambition spend their time on.
Second, look who Zuckerberg had around him to build Facebook to what it is today. I’m talking power players like Sean Parker (started two billion dollar startups), Steve Chen (later founded YouTube), Peter Thiel (cofounded PayPal), Matt Cohler (later cofounded LinkedIn), Dustin Moskovitz (later founded Asana), and Adam D’Angelo (later founded Quora).
Mark is a stud and had brilliant people around him. Those two forces combined makes for an insanely successful company, aka Facebook.
Who are the people you hang around? Are they helping you move closer to your dreams or are they holding you back?
The truth is in your results right now. So if you’re not making progress, find better friends. Your entire perspective and results will change once you’re around people who support you.
If you don’t like Zuckerberg or these action steps, this book is extremely interesting from the controversial plot alone. You can learn more about it below.
Order The Accidental Billionaires
Or check out other book recommendations to become more successful.